India’s Hindu hardliners leap on Kashmir blockbuster

Indian Hindu hardliners have jumped on an explosive new movie endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the mass flight of Hindus from Kashmir 30 years in the past to fire up hatred towards minority Muslims. “The Kashmir Information” is the newest Bollywood offering-more well-known for its song-and-dance love stories-to sort out themes near the political agenda of Modi’s Hindu nationalist authorities, critics say.

Launched final month and already one of many nation’s highest-grossing movies this 12 months, it depicts in harrowing element how a number of hundred thousand Hindus fled Muslim militants in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989-90. Authorities have made entrance to the movie tax-free in lots of states, with police and others given time without work to go watch. Quite a few movies shared on social media and verified as real by AFP have proven folks in cinemas calling for revenge and for Muslims to be killed.

One clip reveals Swami Jeetendranand, a Hindu monk, main a crowd in nationalist and anti-Muslim chants. “We predict that we’re protected, however we’re protected so long as they don’t assault us,” he rails. “(Muslims) usually are not solely harmful to India however to the entire world.”

Truth or fiction?

Muslim-majority Kashmir, cut up between India and Pakistan since 1947, has a bloody previous. Three many years of insurgency-with Pakistan’s backing, in accordance with New Delhi-and a heavy-handed response by the Indian navy have killed tens of 1000’s of individuals, largely Muslims. Round 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus-known as Pandits-fled after the violence started within the late Eighties. As much as 219 might have been killed, in accordance with official figures.

Redressing this “genocide” and “exodus”, as right-wing Hindu teams name it-likening it to the Holocaust-has lengthy been a central theme of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Get together. In 2019, his administration-often accused of marginalizing and vilifying India’s 200 million Muslims-revoked the area’s partial autonomy and imposed a vice-like safety blanket.

However Sanjay Kaw, a Kashmiri Pandit journalist who himself fled within the Nineties, stated the film makes no allusion to the persecution of the area’s Muslim group both earlier than or since. “One among my family was shot lifeless… barely 300 meters away from our residence,” Kaw advised AFP. “The film solely talks concerning the exodus half, and solely refers back to the failure of the state however not the issues that led to the scenario.”

BJP agenda

The film’s director Vivek Agnihotri, an avowed Modi fan, advised AFP that he wished to offer “some dignity to the individuals who have been damage”. “No person requested Steven Spielberg why there have been a number of violent reactions to ‘Schindler’s Checklist’,” he stated, referring to the 1993 film on the Holocaust that was broadly acclaimed as traditionally correct. “Give (folks) the suitable to react the way in which they wish to react. So long as they don’t seem to be hurting anyone bodily, I believe it’s advantageous,” Agnihotri added.

However the movie “definitely has an agenda”, stated documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak, because it “strongly feeds into the present Islamophobic discourse in our society”. “I believe the movie makes these objectives (of the BJP) fairly specific: which is principally about establishing Kashmir as a form of ideological pole for his or her imaginative and prescient of a brand new resurgent Hindu India,” he advised AFP.

Modiwood

Modi has hit again towards the criticism, saying a “complete ecosystem is making an attempt to silence the one who made the movie and tried to disclose the reality”. The world’s largest democracy has a protracted historical past of movie censorship, however detractors say the trade has come underneath elevated stress to make movies that dovetail extra with the BJP’s narrative. In 2019, the hagiographic “PM Narendra Modi” concerning the premier’s life story, was an excessive amount of even for the Election Fee, which delayed its launch till after a vote that 12 months.

The identical 12 months noticed the gung-ho “Uri”, a blockbuster based mostly on India’s 2016 “surgical strikes” on militants throughout Pakistan that critics stated additionally performed thick and quick with the info. It was simply one among a string of current military-themed films which were nationalistic, all-guns-blazing tales of heroics by troopers and police-usually Hindus-against enemies outdoors and inside India. “Most Indians suppose what occurred in ‘Uri’ is what they noticed within the movie,” Kak stated. “In the identical manner what they see on this movie turns into the story of Kashmir.” – AFP

 

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